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The JSS World
By Ray "Monk" Powers
JSS Season is on its way. Well, its been on its way for a
while, but I just ran my first one for this season. Let me
tell you, I wish I was 15. These things are such a smoking
deal! For $15 everyone gets the special foil promo card, and
the top 8 also get another special foil promo card. Then the
top 12 and under player who does not make top 8 gets one,
and the bets sportsman gets one. So, before we go anywhere
with prizes, the ten people have gotten some great foil
The let's go to the top 8. First place gets a box, plus a
box of the next two sets as they come out. Second place gets
a box, 3rd and 4th, half a box each, 5th through 8th, 9
Oh, and then there's those TWO $500 scholarships for the top
to players, and the invites to JSS Nationals. Seriously, how
can this be a bad tournament?
(This, of course, is how the United States events work. I
admit to know knowledge of other country JSS programs.)
The only thing I am a little bit unhappy about it is that
the Rules Enforcement Level of the event is low considering,
in all reality the prize pool is BETTER than that of a PTQ.
This leads to some of the older kids being a little Rules
Lawyerly around the younger kids, which is both aggravating
and a bad influence. As a judge, I tend to make it very
clear that I will err on the side of letting the little kid
rule in these events, which helps a lot, but it still can be
a problem sometimes. But I want the kids to have fun and
enjoy these events, and think its worth pushing the older
kids to stop trying to force the kids into ultra tight play
at this level.
Of course, I'm not sure it matters for the most part. I
can't tell you how many kids at my last event were playing
what I call "kitchen Magic," with very few honoring of the
exact timing system. Kids would Draw, untap, play a land,
and do things like that throughout the day. In all honesty,
if they opponent didn't care, and they were being somewhat
clear, and there was no upkeep effects to mess things up, I
didn't bother correcting them. I'd rather they have fun than
listen to me give them 30 cautions for not untapping first.
Its kind of fun to see what goes on in these events, and the
decks people play. I saw at least one person playing a
precon with about 5 cards changed out, and a random
sideboard. Three people player IronWorks, two of them making
it to the top eight if I remember right. Tooth and Nail was
there, as was Affinity of course. The most entertaining deck
of the day was also the winner, a deck that uses Forbidden
Orchid, Intruder Alarm, any card that makes a land a
creature, and Fireball for the win. Combolicious and funny
to watch go off.
I always thought Affinity was a pretty easy deck to play.
The math is hard sometimes to figure out if you have enough
damage plus loss of life to win, but overall its very much a
'drop you hand and swing' kind of deck. But the JSS seemed
to prove that wrong for me as I watched player after player
miscount their affinity, or if they had enough to kill their
opponent. And apparently most JSS players in my region play
Disciple of the Vault because he's a good vanilla 1/1 for
one mana drop, not due to his scarily good ability in the
Affinity deck. I saw over a dozen times that the Disciple
decided not to make his opponent lose life when an artifact
went to the graveyard. I also saw people who did not realize
that Cranial Plating can be moved as an instant, because
they could have easily killed their opponent with a quick
change. I find it funny that I have always strongly
advocated the banning of Disciple of the Vault, but after
watching this event, I almost think he's not that dangerous
if no one bothers to activate his ability.
Am I saying the JSS players are horrible? Well, obviously
some of them are.
They are kids there to play for fun who enjoy the game, and
they have every right to be as good or as bad as they want
to be. You don't have to be good at Magic to enjoy the game,
I am living proof of that. But, speaking as one of those
guys who can most of the time SEE the right play, even if I
don't always do the right play, its always interesting to
watch the weird plays people do and try to understand why
they do it. On of the Ironworks players, on turn three, laid
his third land, with only three land and nothing else on the
board, and no counterspells in hand, and passed the turn
instead of casting the Fabricate he had in hand for a piece.
His opponent is playing white weenie, and already had three
creatures on the board, so there was a bit of time
criticality going on, but for some reason he decided not to
start assembling his puzzle as fast as he could, perhaps
faking the counter, but really, do you think WW cares? So
you counter one of its creatures, the other three are still
hitting your face this turn, and they probably can drop two
this turn anyways to make sure you die between turns five
Still, everyone seemed to have a great time, and the only
downer to the event was the fact that there always seems to
be one bad apple in the crowd.
One group of kids left shortly after the top eight began,
taking with them another kids book bag full of cards.
Although we tried to catch up with them, we missed, but
lucky us, one of that group of kids was in my top 8, so I
have his information to track them down. Although we are
pretty sure its not that kid, we'll know who his friends are
and go from there. I can not describe my hatred towards
people who steal, especially from other kids who barely have
property of their own, and for whom these cards are often
their best or only way of relating with their friends. The
lack of respect people have for each other's property is
astonishing, and if I had my way, theft of another player's
property, in addition to any legal ramifications, would
include life time suspension from DCI sanctioned events.
There is no excuse for this behavior. Shame on anyone who
even thinks it.
As a funny side note, I am typing this article while running
my very last Wiz Kids event. This event is a Wiz Kids
Prerelease, which also somehow is a regional qualifier for
an event much like a Grand Prix for Magic. Yes, that's
right, the Prerelease, halfway through, turns constructed,
and then turns into a regional qualifier, BUT ONLY FOR THE
TOP 16 and previously locally qualified players. Sound
confusing? Well, add on to that the fact that WizKids never
actually bothered to tell me this, and I was caught
completely blind by it the day before the event when a
player started asking me questions I could not answer.
Oh, and they under shipped me product, so I didn't have
enough prizes for everyone.
Have I mentioned how happy I am that I am going back to only
working for Wizards of the Coast?
See you next week!